War of the Worlds is perhaps one of H.G. Wells finest works. Written in an era where lyrical prose had been the norm. Wonderful descriptions with powerful intelligent sounding words. While Edgar Rice Burrows and Arthur Conan Doyle explored “Brave New Worlds,” full of dinosaurs and martians and beautiful princess hatched from eggs in the sand, H.G. Wells warned of danger. Where Jules Verne stopped with 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Wells forges ahead with a thread from a new direction, space, the final fronier. Wells warns us of danger, not so much in the extent of our exploration, but danger in the extent of our ego. Mankind was in for a tragic lesson.
The point of a dystopian novel is not what brings the death of civilization, the point of a distopian novel is to warn us about something in ourselves. What will the earth be like in the end? Will mankind be dignified and face their demise with class, like the famous Quartet on the Titanic who played music to help keep the passengers calm even as the deck sank into the frigid Atlantic, in the last desperate moments will we revert to neanderthals and cave men, or, will the darkest motivations and ugliest side of our survival instincts raise our ugly souls as judgement day is called on Earth, not from God, but from Mars, the closest planet even remotely possible of having life, at least as far as we knew in 1898.
This is a wonderful story, full of lyrical prose that raise hairs on the back of the neck with chilling clinical portrayal of man’s basic dark side. At other times the desperation of the survivors wrenches hearts and strikes fear in the soul. This era produced some of the most colorfully and picturesque works of any time. Dead London will chill your bones. Well’s world of rubble and burnt out husks slowly succumbing to the red weed standing against a darking sky while the few humans who hadn’t fled hid in the wreckage like wraiths from “I Am Legend.”